November. The month that reminds us to be grateful.

Be grateful if your company has improved the numbers in your organization by having more diverse tech teams.

Be grateful if you have seen more women promoted into leadership roles.

Be grateful that awareness about the value of having balanced, diverse teams has had the spotlight shown on it.

Be grateful if you have seen proactive measures being taken to create a more inclusive work culture for Women In Tech.

Another step towards creating a work environment that works for everyone is cultural competence.

Cultural Competence challenges companies to go beyond the numbers and ensure that people can do better by knowing better. To be competent in anything you have to work at it.

This month we discuss 5 myths about cultural competence and ways your organization can begin to help build a more culturally competent workforce.

We will all be grateful to you for doing so!

Stay InspiHERed!

CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company

Unlocking The Key To Inclusion

Women leave tech jobs at a much higher rate than men do.

Numerous surveys say a prime culprit of high turnover is “workplace experiences,”—lack of career growth, limited opportunities for training and development, poor management, and an atmosphere of alienation and undermining behavior. As one researcher summarized, “It’s the climate, stupid!”

One solution, say many diversity and inclusion experts, is acquiring cultural competence.

“It’s not just about diversity, it’s about what we do to utilize it,” says Sara Taylor, founder of a diversity and cultural competency consulting firm. “It’s like having a giant treasure chest—do you know how to unlock it? You need competence to unlock it.”

What Is Cultural Competence?

Taylor provides a straightforward definition: “The ability to interact effectively across difference.”

What Are Barriers To Cultural Competence?

An emphasis on cultural competence can help build a more inclusive environment for Women In Tech, but it’s not just an easily acquired “soft skill.” Diversity Woman Magazine lists 5 myths that hold people back from owning and using this skill set:

  1. Exposure = Competence. Simply working alongside a female software engineer does not confer cultural competence upon a male peer.
  2. I get this, it’s my co-workers who don’t! Not so, unconscious bias works against all of us.
  3. Identity = Competence. Are Women In Tech naturally more culturally competent, simply because they have experienced being marginalized? Actually, says Diversity Woman, marginalization can hold individuals back in the development of cultural competence.
  4. Comfort = Competence. Working through differences can be profoundly uncomfortable. When discomfort lessens, competence doesn’t simply appear.“ Just because we are comfortable does not mean we have learned how to be effective with the complexity that comes as we interact across differences.”
  5. Youth = Competence. Yes, younger people have been exposed to more diversity and are often more comfortable with differences. “But cultural competence is a learned and developed skill.”

How To Build Cultural Competence

As in most major changes in an organization, it takes commitment from senior leadership to set the values and culture. Here are some first steps to cultural competence and creating an inclusive workplace climate for Women In Tech:

Train managers. Share the research on unconscious bias and the reasons women are uncomfortable in the current climate. Don’t assume that tech talent translates to cultural competence in management.

Formalize hiring and promotion criteria. Indefinite criteria where “gut feelings” rule are a recipe for biased outcomes.

Create specific coaching, training and mentoring programs for women. Women In Tech need the opportunity to learn critical advancement skills such as relationship building, negotiation, and self-promotion. And they need mentors to help them build a support network of allies and champions.

Trumpet the value of both inclusion and cultural competence. The talent drain of women from tech companies is “a huge, unnecessary, and expensive loss of talent,” says Rachel Thomas, in a Tech Diversity Files post on Medium. “Any tech company struggling to hire and retain as many employees as they need should particularly care about addressing this problem.”

InspiHER Tech offers an Emotional Intelligence workshop that is a must for any company looking to reduce unconscious bias and increase cultural competence. Get the details on our corporate programs here.

 

Why women leave tech. [CIO]

Let’s define cultural competence. [Diversity Officer Magazine]

A closer look at myths of cultural competency. [Diversity Woman]

One-to-one skills for building cultural competence. [University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension]

 

“Difference is of the essence of humanity.”

– John Hume, Irish politician and 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winner

 

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